Determining foraging patterns is an important aspect of understanding tern ecology. This information is critical in marine spatial planning which can help determine appropriate locations for wind farms. Usually, telemetry or survey based data is adequate in this regard, but it is not suitable for all species. To avoid this problem, researchers visually tracked individual species using a ridge – hull inflatable boat.
Terns were tracked during three breeding seasons. Results were moderately successful. Researchers were able to track terns most of the time, although tracking during all weather conditions was not possible. However, visual tracking can provide valuable data on the diet and foraging habits of terns. In addition, visual tracking is an attractive alternative to telemetry because tagging equipment can fail. Also, visual tracking can be useful for studying terns and collision risks with offshore turbines because of the short distances they fly.